Australia’s travel agency community and Aussie government regulators could learn a few tips from the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO), which has just launched a consumer protection awareness campaign to highlight how consumers are protected by booking travel with a TICO-registered travel agency or website.
The campaign, which will run on Canadian TV and online platforms this month, uses two commercials. One highlights the Travel Compensation Fund (Ontario runs one), while the other commercial reminds travellers that a TICO agent protects their travel investment.
Formed in 1997, TICO is a not-for-profit corporation wholly financed by Ontario-registered travel agents and wholesalers. It administers the Travel Industry Act, 2002 and the Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund.
TICO and Ontario’s TCF ensure that consumers in Ontario booking through registered agents are protected. They enjoy greater peace of mind over the security of their funds than consumers in Australia, who may find themselves out of pocket if an agency or end supplier goes bust.
Ontario is Canada’s most populous province by a large margin, accounting for nearly 40% of all Canadians. It’s the location of Canada’s biggest city, Toronto.
The Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund is totally financed by registered travel agents and travel wholesalers in Ontario and is administered by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO), whose board of directors determine whether a consumer claim or a part of one, meets the requirements of the relevant regulation.
The board is comprised of individuals appointed by the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies – Ontario, the Canadian Association of Tour Operators, the Ontario Motor Coach Association, the Ontario Government and individuals elected by registered travel agents and wholesalers.
Subject to the regulation, the Travel Compensation Fund reimburses monies paid to an Ontario registered travel agent for travel services that are not provided due to the bankruptcy or insolvency of an Ontario registrant or an end supplier airline or cruise line, where a reimbursement has not otherwise been provided. As long as the consumer has dealt through a registered Ontario travel retailer, a claim may be filed against the Compensation Fund for the non-provision of travel services.
Claims may be filed against the Compensation Fund to provide the reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred (transportation, accommodation and meals) to complete a trip where the travel services have not been provided as the result of the closure of a TICO registered travel retailer or a TICO registered travel wholesaler.
Provided that the consumer purchased their original travel services from an Ontario registered travel retailer, trip completion claims may be eligible when the consumer’s travel services commenced prior to the failure of the TICO registrant and the consumer is in destination and unable to receive the travel services purchased to complete their travel plans.
To be eligible, a claim on the Travel Compensation Fund must relate to the non-provision of travel services purchased from an Ontario registered travel retailer and not provided due to the bankruptcy or insolvency of either a registered Ontario travel retailer or a registered Ontario travel wholesaler or due to the failure of an airline or cruise line.
Written by Peter Needham